Scale Shock

With Thanksgiving dinner firmly beneath the collective belt, I thought it prudent to discuss a common condition. I call it “scale shock” and it has been known to shatter even the hardiest constitutions leaving a weeping ball of self-pity in its wake.

Here’s the scenario. You’ve been exercising, watching what you eat, and basically doing “good”. However, a holiday comes around, a birthday party pops up, or an impromptu night on the town occurs. Proud of your progress you feel like you can afford to cut loose a little bit and, reasonably enough, you decide to indulge in a few naughty noshes. The next day, you decide to survey the damage by stepping on the scale and, “Gasp!” your weight loss has turned into a gain, and interest rates are rising! Scale shock quickly sets in and sends you into a tailspin of hopelessness, denial, and depression.

“It has all been for naught!” you exclaim. Feeling like your efforts of the previous months and weeks have been erased, you slide into a self-destructive binge of epic proportions and with grim determination set out to prove to yourself the futility of it all. A reasonable reaction if the scale is to be relied upon. The truth, however, is that it isn’t.

When it comes to revealing your “progress” a scale can be a helpful tool, but in certain situations it will beguile and befuddle you. Your “weight” is the sum of a great many processes and proportions. The goal of “weight loss” is really body fat loss. Luckily, to gain a single pound of body fat, you have to consume a net surplus of 3500 calories (basically an entire Bloomin’ Onion from Outback). Even the most decadent dinner is unlikely to surpass that number, by much.

“Then why the hell did I gain 10 lbs?!” you might be asking. Well, the reason for that is that you can gain quite a bit of weight in a very short time by retaining water. Think about it. If you are already dieting, exercising, “being good”, you’re probably a little depleted. A depleted state combined with a huge burst of salt, carbohydrates, and alcohol is all it takes for a perfect storm of water retention to occur. Water retention is why you gained 10 lbs in a night, not body fat.

While you will look and feel bloated, the end is not nigh and you have not “ruined” your progress in one fell swoop. What will ruin your progress is bunking out on your exercise routine, kicking healthy eating habits to the curb, and accumulating an excess of calories day after day after day.

By simply returning to your healthy lifestyle habits after a night of indiscretions you will notice a quick return to “normal” weight and a concomitant return to scale sanity.
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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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